Nurse case scenario | 

Thieving nurse (40) who targeted vulnerable patients in Cork hospital exposed

Claire Murphy stole cash belonging to patients, including that of a 90-year-old man who had €700 taken from the pocket of his trousers

Claire Murphy pleaded guilty to taking money from four hospital patients

Patrick O'Connell

This is the first picture of the thieving nurse who targeted vulnerable patients in a hospital in Cork.

Trusted Health Care Assistant Claire Murphy, who worked at the Bon Secours for 20 years, counted among her four victims a 90-year-old man from whose trouser pocket she stole €700.

Her thefts were only uncovered when the facilities manager at the hospital turned 'Agatha Christie', using a covert camera and a scheme involving a fictitious patient.

On Friday, the Sunday World called to 40-year-old Murphy's five-bedroom-home in Kildorrery, north Cork, to ask about the thefts.

"I'm looking to speak with Claire Murphy," our reporter asked, after she answered the door.

"I'm Claire Murphy," she responded.

"I'd like to ask you about the thefts at the hospital," our reporter asked.

"No," Murphy responded, before retreating inside the house and closing the door.

Reporter Patrick O’Connell confronts Murphy at her home

Details of how Murphy was caught in the act and of how a facilities manager in the Bon Secours used an age-old 'honey-pot' ruse combined with modern technology to catch her, emerged at a sitting of Cork District Court earlier this week.

Judge Olann Kelleher heard how after it became known in the hospital that money was being stolen from patients, the facilities manager embraced his inner Sherlock Holmes to catch the thief:

  • Step one involved the placement of a covert camera in a hospital room in the Bon Secours;
  • Step two involved the manager booking a fictitious patient into the room. The patient had a sum of cash in his wallet;
  • Step three saw the fictitious patient moved to intensive care while his possessions were left behind in the room, completing the 'honey-trap'. In total, €150 was distributed around the room in different locations that were designed to draw out the thief.
  • And, step four - which ultimately depended on the thief striking again - came when healthcare assistant Claire Murphy entered the room and relieved the wallet of its contents.

Murphy was suspended and later released from her job.

And two weeks later, when quizzed by Detective Garda James Bugler, Murphy confessed to the theft.

Appearing before Cork District Court this week, a remorseful Murphy pleaded guilty to four thefts in total from patients at the Bon Secours Hospital.

The charges included: Theft of the sum of €200 at the Bon Secours Hospital on College Road, Cork between February 10 and 13.

The Bon Secours Hospital in Cork

On this occasion the money had been taken from a suitcase in a patient's room - where the entrance to the room was not covered by CCTV;

The theft of €700 from the trousers pocket of a 90-year-old patient between March 1 and 2.

Another €50 was stolen on March 16, and a further €50 taken from a patient on March 17.

Addressing the facts of the case Judge Olann Kelleher credited management at the hospital for going to great lengths to identify and catch the culprit.

Judge Kelleher also noted the fact that one of Murphy's victims had been a 90-year-old man.

Addressing the court on Murphy's behalf, solicitor Ciaran O'Keefe told the court that Murphy had admitted to her crimes straight away.

He also told the court his client had brought €1,000 with her to court to cover the full amount of money she had stolen.

Murphy, he further said, had lost the job she had with the Bon Secours for the past 20 years.

She had tried to pay the money back after she was first caught but couldn't do so as her prosecution was already underway.

The court was further told how at the time of the thefts Murphy was under financial pressure as she and her husband had purchased a house and were working hard to keep up the mortgage.

Claire Murphy from Cork

Adjourning sentence to June 16 to allow for the preparation of a probation report, Judge Kelleher described as a "serious matter" the taking of money from patients in the course of her employment.

The Bon Secours Hospital in Cork is Ireland's largest private hospital and also one of the largest private hospitals in Europe.

Established in 1915, it has more than 300 beds, employs more than 1,000 staff and admits about 35,000 patients every year.

It is a general hospital providing an extensive range of medical and surgical specialties for adults and children.

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